Friday, October 09, 2015

"Meet people where they are at"

Having been brought up in the "Meet people where they are at", school of moral theology, liturgy etc, I was rather pleased when I heard about this 'tweet' from Card Napier. Until I saw it on Fr Z's blog I didn't realise it was also a jab at the Fr Rosica, who seems to be manipulating the English language press coverage of the Synod on behalf of his own particular lobby group.
"Meet people where they are at", strikes me as being the most un-Christian idea ever! Christ keeps saying, 'Come follow me', he calls us out of the place we are at, out of our old life. He gives us hope, more importantly he gives us grace, power, to move away from sin. 
"Meet people where they are at", has all the problems of introspection Cardinal Ratzinger spoke about when he wrote about introspective worship leading to introspective ecclesiology.
"Meet people where they are at", tends to mean that the Church or Christians end up by moving in with them. This phrase I am sure is one of the reasons the Church has lost a sense of Mission and is unable to call to conversion and therefore to evangelise effectively.


Catherina of Siena said...

Proud to be a South African Catholic when I see and hear the incisive but balanced Gospel witness of Cardinal Napier.

Thanks very much also to you Father Ray for your steadfast and inspiring work for the Kingdom of God.

Cosmos said...

THANK YOU! It seems like too many Catholic bishops and theologians are busy "improving" ancient Christianity, instead of teaching it.

Jesus himself, much less Paul, could ever live up to their new ideals.

Another example:

Pope Francis: “The path ahead, then, is dialogue among yourselves, dialogue in your presbyterates, dialogue with lay persons, dialogue with families, dialogue with society. I cannot ever tire of encouraging you to dialogue fearlessly. The richer the heritage which you are called to share with parrhesia, the more eloquent should be the humility with which you should offer it. Do not be afraid to set out on that “exodus” which is necessary for all authentic dialogue. Otherwise, we fail to understand the thinking of others, or to realize deep down that the brother or sister we wish to reach and redeem, with the power and the closeness of love, counts more than their positions, distant as they may be from what we hold as true and certain. Harsh and divisive language does not befit the tongue of a pastor, it has no place in his heart; although it may momentarily seem to win the day, only the enduring allure of goodness and love remains truly convincing.

Jesus: "I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."

Fr Dickson said...

"This phrase I am sure is one of the reasons the Church has lost a sense of Mission and is unable to call to conversion and therefore to evangelise effectively."

Bullseye, Father.

Bruno W said...

Dear Father,
"meeting them where they are" is typical modern, V2 language. I bet Fr.Rosica could not and would explain precisely, what he actually means. You could fill volumes with this kind of flabby feel good baloney, which has come forth from Catholic officialdom.

Ana Milan said...

This phrase I am sure is one of the reasons the Church has lost a sense of Mission and is unable to call to conversion and therefore to evangelise effectively.

Yes, absolutely correct, but then one has to ask does the CC really want to evangelise. After all, Pope Francis keeps telling us we are all the same, Atheists can get to heaven by good deeds and" Who am I to judge". He, himself, has refused to convert to Catholicism his late friend and bishop of the Pentecostal Church Tony Palmer and another Lutheran minister, whom he reportedly told that the CC wanted him where he was. With all the forthcoming celebrations for 500th anniversary of the Reformation being made and the plans laid for the Pope to sign a dual declaration of Unity in Mission agreed with his Pentecostal friends, is there any doubt that conversion to the One Holy Catholic & Apostolic Church is not high on the list of this Pontiff's priorities.

Pelerin said...

If anyone needs a little light relief from the doom and gloom of the Synod they should go and read 'Brawl erupts at Synod' on the Eye of the Tiber blog. Very funny.

Gregkanga said...

The first step in combatting sin in the conversion process is to be honest in defining and recognising it and not pussyfooting around the truth about sin with all sorts of euphemisms. The history of the Church will show that the greatest and most effective evangelisers were first and foremost Catholics who were themselves profoundly evangelised, men and women of prayer who were fully engaged in a life long process of conversion, who lived lives anchored in the sacraments of the Church and regularly practiced the real, holy and living presence of God.

Palincor IG said...

But might not this phrase also refer to Jesus's habit of going out to where the sinners were - the Pharisees complained he dined with them - precisely to call them unto repentance ie. unto Himself ?

exsurge said...

With respect I think Pope Francis meant that before you can be a Christian you first have to be 'met where you're at' before the call to ' follow me' takes place. We see this when Jesus meets Peter by the lake fishing 'where he is at'. no great shakes.

exsurge said...

Also Pope Francis didn't say when you've met this person where they are at you should condone them rather acknowledge they are not where they could be butbyet are still where they are. Good old fashioned compassion. I don't see why everyone is up in arms about this. Jesus didn't bat an eyelid when chewing the cud with prostitutes.

Luke O'Sullivan said...

I agree whole heartedly with Cardnial Napier's intervention and with the sentiments expressed. Meeting people "where they are" may be the necessary first step of the Christian journey but if left at that, it is a sterile gesture. I always think of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Jesus met them where they were and indeed acommpanied them on the way. When he made to go on, they even managed to convince him to stay but he did so only to open their eyes. Christ's presence, words and actions set a fire burning within them changed their behaviour. In the end, they abandoned Emmaus and decided upon a different route.

JARay said...

Once again someone else has to explain what Pope Francis meant when he said "xyz"! He sows confusion and others have to explain!

John Vasc said...

"Pope Francis meant...Pope Francis didn't say..."
Usquequo, exsurge?
Pope Francis says so much, so unclearly, and "doesn't say" so much in saying it that it's often impossible to know what he means. That also goes for Fr Rosica's deeply ambiguous phrase.
I have yet to meet any Catholic who disapproves of mission work - which is what going out to meet and convert the fisherman or sinner is. If that's what "meeting the people where they are" means, it's been going on routinely for centuries, unopposed by anyone in the Church, and usually crowned with sainthood. I've never heard anyone suggest the unconverted fisherman must first of all put on a collar and tie and get on a bus and seek out the missionary.
These are empty straw man arguments.
OTOH Christ never tolerated the sinner's sin - He consorted with sinners to convert them. Pastoral forbearance does not save the sinner - on the contrary. For example, the drug-use and sexual promiscuity and violence of urban ghettos is only perpetuated by complaisant, lenient pastors who try to blend in, and who avoid mentioning Christ and refrain from insisting on the urgency of His demand for our instant and immediate conversion and radical alteration of our way of life.
The only meaningful gradualism is post-conversion, in our subsequently growing ability - with His merciful grace - to cleave to Him and avoid sin.

Palincor IG said...

The best 'apologetic' I can make out for meeting people where they are by seemingly endless 'dialogue' as Pope Francis says, is a an ongoing mutually honest conversation re. what is true and what is false, not re. what is right and what is wrong. I can see some 'mileage' in this eg. what the monks of Worth Abbey seemed to do with the men in the the BBC series The Monastery, but ultimately we cannot, especially with those already Christian but sinning, hold to that course as more than a useful approach in some cases. We cannot omit the realm of judgement any more than Christ and the Apostles were able or willing to.

Victoria said...

I first came across Fr Rosica when he wrote an anti communion on the tongue article for a Franciscan magazine whose name I have forgotten.

tuleesh said...

But, but, wait. After Jesus declared that in order to follow Him, one needs to deny himself and pick his cross, He said, "Gotcha! Only kidding. Let me come down to your level." /sarc

Seriously, Father, thank you for your clarity. You are one of a few lighthouses in a very, very, foggy world/blogosphere. Bless you, and keep up the good work.